Buckhead: Atlanta's Ritziest, Glitziest Neighborhood

Buckhead is an Atlanta neighborhood located in the uppermost northeastern part of the Atlanta city limits. It is bordered by Interstate 85 on the east and Interstate 75 on the west. Atlanta's legendary Peachtree Road runs through the heart of the area. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, serves Buckhead with three train stations and numerous bus lines. A community shuttle, the "buc,'' stops at major shopping and office venues. Buckhead is home to over 100,000 people. It is the richest neighborhood in the Atlanta metro area and one of the richest in the nation.

Many of Atlanta's finest estate homes are located in Buckhead, including the Georgia Governor's Mansion. In addition, most of the city's high-end residential high-rises are here. The city's two upscale shopping malls, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, sit across from each other on Peachtree Road and offer Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's, as well as many designer boutiques. Another shopping area, the Streets of Buckhead, is scheduled to open in 2010. The Streets of Buckhead will feature exclusive designer stores laid out along Peachtree in a pedestrian-friendly, "village'' format. Herm,s and Van Cleef & Arpels will be two of the anchors of the new development.

Several of Atlanta's most elegant hotels are in Buckhead, including the St. Regis, the Mansion on Peachtree and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. The Ritz-Carlton is the home of the Dining Room, which is consistently rated as one of the finest restaurants in the United States. Many other fine dining opportunities are available in Buckhead, including the Buckhead Diner, Bone's and the Atlanta Fish Market. Most of the city's high-powered law and real estate firms have their headquarters here. Some of the city's best fine-art galleries are located here, and two districts, Miami Circle and Bennett Street, are home to antiques, art studios and some of the "funkier'' upscale galleries.

A study from the University of Georgia called Buckhead "the largest concentration of income and buying power to be found in the southern United States.'' The Robb Report named the community one of the ten "Top Affluent Communities'' for "some of the most beautiful mansions, best shopping and finest restaurants in the southeastern United States.'' Despite its glamour, the "downtown'' part of Buckhead, known as the Village, had become rundown by the 1990s. Many of the older buildings held less-than-glamorous bars that catered to a young, rowdy crowd not in keeping with the sedate, "old money'' feel of the area. Traffic on weekends had become unmanageable, and crime was on the rise.

Civic leaders and local real estate developers undertook a plan to remake that part of Buckhead. The Streets of Buckhead, the new shopping development, is only a part of that plan. The Buckhead Community Improvement District plans to transform Peachtree Road into a boulevard that runs through a "livable urban center, where sustained, balanced growth is compatible with a good quality of life.'' Their goals include better safety, improved public transportation and more pedestrian access. Although the recession has slowed Buckhead's latest wave of transformation, new luxury hotels, office buildings and high-rise condominiums continue to open. Everyone clearly expects Buckhead remain the center of Atlanta's wealth for a long time to come.

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